HORUS is one of the most significant ancient Egyptian deities . He
was worshipped from at least the late prehistoric Egypt until the
Ptolemaic Kingdom and Roman Egypt . Different forms of
recorded in history and these are treated as distinct gods by
Egyptologists . These various forms may possibly be different
perceptions of the same multi-layered deity in which certain
attributes or syncretic relationships are emphasized, not necessarily
in opposition but complementary to one another, consistent with how
the Ancient Egyptians viewed the multiple facets of reality. He was
most often depicted as a falcon, most likely a lanner falcon or
peregrine falcon , or as a man with a falcon head.
The earliest recorded form of
Horus is the tutelary deity of Nekhen
Upper Egypt , who is the first known national god, specifically
related to the king who in time came to be regarded as a manifestation
Horus in life and
Osiris in death. The most commonly encountered
family relationship describes
Horus as the son of
Isis and Osiris, and
he plays a key role in the
Osiris myth as Osiris's heir and the rival
to Set , the murderer of Osiris. In another tradition
regarded as his mother and sometimes as his wife.
Horus served many
functions, most notably being a god of the sky, war and hunting.
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Note of changes over time
Horus and the pharaoh
* 4 Origin mythology
* 5 Mythological roles
* 5.1 Sky god
* 5.2 God of war and hunting
* 5.3 Conflict between
Horus and Set
* 5.4 Heru-pa-khered (
Horus the Younger)
* 5.5 Her-ur (
Horus the Elder)
* 6 Celebrations of
* 7 In popular culture
* 8 Gallery of images
* 9 See also
* 10 References
* 11 External links
Horus is recorded in
Egyptian hieroglyphs as ḥr.w "Falcon"; the
pronunciation has been reconstructed as ħaːruw. Additional meanings
are thought to have been "the distant one" or "one who is above,
over". As the language changed over time, it appeared in Coptic
dialects variously as hoːɾ or ħoːɾ and was adopted into ancient
Greek as Ὧρος Hōros (pronounced at the time as hoːɾos). It
also survives in Late Egyptian and Coptic theophoric names such as
Har-si-ese "Horus, Son of Isis".
Nekheny may have been another falcon god worshipped at
Nekhen , city
of the falcon, with whom
Horus was identified from early on.
Horus may be shown as a falcon on the
Narmer Palette , dating from
31st century BC .
NOTE OF CHANGES OVER TIME
In early Egypt,
Horus was the brother of
Osiris , Set and
Nephthys . As different cults formed, he became the son of
Isis remained the sister of Osiris, Set and Nephthys.
HORUS AND THE PHARAOH
Pyramid Texts (c. 2400–2300 BC) describe the nature of the
pharaoh in different characters as both
Horus and Osiris. The pharaoh
Horus in life became the pharaoh as
Osiris in death, where he was
united with the rest of the gods. New incarnations of
the deceased pharaoh on earth in the form of new pharaohs.
The lineage of Horus, the eventual product of unions between the
Atum , may have been a means to explain and justify
pharaonic power. The gods produced by
Atum were all representative of
cosmic and terrestrial forces in Egyptian life. By identifying Horus
as the offspring of these forces, then identifying him with Atum
himself, and finally identifying the
Pharaoh with Horus, the Pharaoh
theologically had dominion over all the world.
The notion of
Horus as the pharaoh seems to have been superseded by
the concept of the pharaoh as the son of Ra during the Fifth Dynasty .
Part of a series on
ANCIENT EGYPTIAN RELIGION
* Offering formula
Four sons of Horus
Books of Breathing
Book of Caverns
Book of the Dead
Book of the Dead
Book of the Earth
Book of Gates
Book of Gates
Book of the Netherworld
Ancient Egypt portal
Horus was born to the goddess
Isis after she retrieved all the
dismembered body parts of her murdered husband Osiris, except his
penis , which was thrown into the Nile and eaten by a catfish , or
sometimes depicted as instead by a crab, and according to
account used her magic powers to resurrect
Osiris and fashion a golden
phallus to conceive her son (older Egyptian accounts have the penis
Isis knew she was pregnant with Horus, she fled to the Nile
Delta marshlands to hide from her brother Set , who jealously killed
Osiris and who she knew would want to kill their son. There
a divine son, Horus.
Horus was said to be the sky, he was considered to also contain
the sun and moon. It became said that the sun was his right eye and
the moon his left, and that they traversed the sky when he, a falcon,
flew across it. Later, the reason that the moon was not as bright as
the sun was explained by a tale, known as The Contendings of
Seth . In this tale, it was said that Set, the patron of
Upper Egypt ,
and Horus, the patron of
Lower Egypt , had battled for Egypt brutally,
with neither side victorious, until eventually the gods sided with
Horus was the ultimate victor he became known as ḥr.w wr "Horus
the Great", but more usually translated "
Horus the Elder". In the
struggle, Set had lost a testicle, explaining why the desert, which
Set represented, is infertile. Horus' left eye had also been gouged
out, then a new eye was created by part of
Khonsu , the moon god, and
Horus represented the eclipsing binary
Algol in the Calendar of Lucky
and Unlucky Days of papyrus Cairo 86637.
Horus was occasionally shown in art as a naked boy with a finger in
his mouth sitting on a lotus with his mother. In the form of a youth,
Horus was referred to as nfr ḥr.w "Good Horus", transliterated
Neferhor, Nephoros or Nopheros (reconstructed as naːfiru ħaːruw).
Eye of Horus
Eye of Horus or Wedjat
Eye of Horus
Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection and
royal power from deities, in this case from
Horus or Ra . The symbol
is seen on images of Horus' mother, Isis, and on other deities
associated with her. In the Egyptian language, the word for this
symbol was "wedjat" (wɟt). It was the eye of one of the earliest of
Wadjet , who later became associated with
Mut , and
Hathor as well.
Wadjet was a solar deity and this symbol
began as her all-seeing eye. In early artwork,
Hathor is also depicted
with this eye. Funerary amulets were often made in the shape of the
Eye of Horus. The Wedjat or
Eye of Horus
Eye of Horus is "the central element" of
seven "gold , faience , carnelian and lapis lazuli " bracelets found
on the mummy of
Shoshenq II . The Wedjat "was intended to protect the
king in the afterlife" and to ward off evil. Egyptian and Near
Eastern sailors would frequently paint the symbol on the bow of their
vessel to ensure safe sea travel.
GOD OF WAR AND HUNTING
Horus depicted as a falcon
Horus was also said to be a god of war and hunting. The
is shown upon a standard on the prehistoric
Hunters Palette in the
"lion hunt". Thus he became a symbol of majesty and power as well as
the model of the pharaohs, who were said to be
Horus in human form.
Anti , another war god and the tutelary deity of
Tjebu , was later
identified with Horus.
CONFLICT BETWEEN HORUS AND SET
Louvre , Shen rings in his grasp
Horus was told by his mother, Isis, to protect the people of Egypt
from Set , the god of the desert, who had killed Horus' father,
Horus had many battles with Set, not only to avenge his
father, but to choose the rightful ruler of Egypt. In these battles,
Horus came to be associated with Lower Egypt, and became its patron.
According to The Contendings of
Horus and Seth, Set is depicted as
trying to prove his dominance by seducing
Horus and then having sexual
intercourse with him. However,
Horus places his hand between his
thighs and catches Set's semen , then subsequently throws it in the
river so that he may not be said to have been inseminated by Set.
Horus then deliberately spreads his own semen on some lettuce , which
was Set's favorite food. After Set had eaten the lettuce, they went to
the gods to try to settle the argument over the rule of Egypt. The
gods first listened to Set's claim of dominance over Horus, and call
his semen forth, but it answered from the river, invalidating his
claim. Then, the gods listened to Horus' claim of having dominated
Set, and call his semen forth, and it answered from inside Set.
Figure of a
Horus Falcon, between circa 300 and circa 250 BC
(Greco-Roman). The Walters Art Museum.
Horus falcon, after 600
BCE. Original in the Department of
Ancient Egypt and Sudan, British
However, Set still refused to relent, and the other gods were getting
tired from over eighty years of fighting and challenges.
Horus and Set
challenged each other to a boat race, where they each raced in a boat
made of stone.
Horus and Set agreed, and the race started. But Horus
had an edge: his boat was made of wood painted to resemble stone,
rather than true stone. Set's boat, being made of heavy stone, sank,
but Horus' did not.
Horus then won the race, and Set stepped down and
Horus the throne of Egypt. After the New Kingdom, Set
was still considered lord of the desert and its oases.
In many versions of the story,
Horus and Set divide the realm between
them. This division can be equated with any of several fundamental
dualities that the Egyptians saw in their world.
Horus may receive the
fertile lands around the Nile, the core of Egyptian civilization, in
which case Set takes the barren desert or the foreign lands that are
associated with it;
Horus may rule the earth while Set dwells in the
sky; and each god may take one of the two traditional halves of the
country, Upper and Lower Egypt, in which case either god may be
connected with either region. Yet in the
Memphite Theology ,
Geb , as
judge, first apportions the realm between the claimants and then
reverses himself, awarding sole control to Horus. In this peaceable
Horus and Set are reconciled, and the dualities that they
represent have been resolved into a united whole. Through this
resolution, order is restored after the tumultuous conflict.
Egyptologists have often tried to connect the conflict between the
two gods with political events early in Egypt's history or prehistory.
The cases in which the combatants divide the kingdom, and the frequent
association of the paired
Horus and Set with the union of Upper and
Lower Egypt, suggest that the two deities represent some kind of
division within the country. Egyptian tradition and archaeological
evidence indicate that Egypt was united at the beginning of its
history when an Upper Egyptian kingdom, in the south, conquered Lower
Egypt in the north. The Upper Egyptian rulers called themselves
"followers of Horus", and
Horus became the tutelary deity of the
unified nation and its kings. Yet
Horus and Set cannot be easily
equated with the two-halves of the country. Both deities had several
cult centers in each region, and
Horus is often associated with Lower
Egypt and Set with Upper Egypt. Other events may have also affected
the myth. Before even
Upper Egypt had a single ruler, two of its major
Nekhen , in the far south, and
Nagada , many miles to the
north. The rulers of Nekhen, where
Horus was the patron deity, are
generally believed to have unified Upper Egypt, including Nagada,
under their sway. Set was associated with Nagada, so it is possible
that the divine conflict dimly reflects an enmity between the cities
in the distant past. Much later, at the end of the Second Dynasty (c.
Seth-Peribsen used the
Set animal to writing
his serekh name in place of the falcon hieroglyph representing Horus.
Khasekhemwy used both
Horus and Set in the writing of
his serekh. This evidence has prompted conjecture that the Second
Dynasty saw a clash between the followers of the
Horus king and the
worshippers of Set led by Seth-Peribsen. Khasekhemwy's use of the two
animal symbols would then represent the reconciliation of the two
factions, as does the resolution of the myth.
HERU-PA-KHERED (HORUS THE YOUNGER)
Horus the Younger,
Harpocrates to the Ptolemaic Greeks, is
represented in the form of a youth wearing a lock of hair (a sign of
youth) on the right of his head while sucking his finger. In addition,
he usually wears the united crowns of Egypt, the crown of Upper Egypt
and the crown of Lower Egypt. He is a form of the rising sun,
representing its earliest light.
HER-UR (HORUS THE ELDER)
In this form he represented the god of light and the husband of
Hathor . He was one of the oldest gods of ancient Egypt. He became the
Nekhen (Hierakonpolis) and the first national god (God of
the Kingdom). Later, he also became the patron of the pharaohs, and
was called the son of truth. – signifying his role as an important
Maat . He was seen as a great falcon with outstretched
wings whose right eye was the sun and the left one was the moon. In
this form, he was sometimes given the title KEMWER, meaning (the)
great black (one).
The Greek form of HER-UR (or HAR WER) is HAROERIS. Other variants
include HOR MERTI '
Horus of the two eyes' and HORKHENTI IRTI.
CELEBRATIONS OF HORUS
Chronicon noted the annual ancient Egyptian celebration
of Horus, specifying the time as the winter solstice :
An analysis of the works of
Epiphanius of Salamis
Epiphanius of Salamis noted the Egyptian
winter solstice celebration of
IN POPULAR CULTURE
Ancient Egyptian deities in popular culture §
GALLERY OF IMAGES
Horus, patron deity of Hierakonpolis (near
Edfu ), the predynastic
capital of Upper Egypt. Its head was executed by means of beating the
gold then connecting it with the copper body. A uraeus is fixed to the
diadem which supports two tall openwork feathers. The eyes are inlaid
with obsidian. Sixth Dynasty .
Horus represented in relief with
Wadjet and wearing the double crown.
Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
Horus relief in the Temple of
Horus from the reign of
Amenhotep II (Eighteenth Dynasty ,
ca. 1400 BCE) in the
Musée royal de Mariemont ,
Horus in the temple of
Seti I in Abydos
Hawk of Quraish
* Solar deity#
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